It seems Attorney General Eric Holder, like his boss, is becoming bolder and more outspoken now that he’s leaving his position. He’s now arguing that we should have a national moratorium on executions, at least until the Supreme Court issues a ruling in a case involving lethal injections.
“Our system of justice is the best in the world. It is comprised of men and women who do the best they can, get it right more often than not, substantially more right than wrong. But there’s always the possibility that mistakes will be made,” he said.
“It is one thing to put somebody in jail for an extended period of time, have some new test that you can do and determine that person was, in fact, innocent. There is no ability to correct a mistake where somebody has, in fact, been executed. And that is from my perspective the ultimate nightmare.”
Holder went on to say he disagrees with Justice Antonin Scalia, who has said the U.S. has never executed an innocent person.
“It’s inevitable,” he said during a luncheon at the National Press Club.
Late last month, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal the from death row inmates in Oklahoma who are challenging the state’s procedures for lethal injections.
“I think a moratorium until the Supreme Court makes that decision would be appropriate,” Holder said.
But there are three big problems with this. First, the claim that the US has the best system of justice in the world is so utterly laughable that one has to be almost clinically delusional to believe it. I doubt he actually does believe it, though. This is just the kind of self-congratulatory bullshit that politicians always feel the need to engage in because the American public has this incredibly childish need to be told constantly how amazing they are. Our “justice” system is fucked up beyond measure at every level.
Second, his argument has nothing to do with his conclusion. The Supreme Court case he refers to has nothing whatsoever to do with his argument, which is about the possibility of executing an innocent person. That case deals only with the question of using unapproved drugs in lethal injections now that the approved drugs have become almost impossible to get.
Lastly, it simply doesn’t go far enough. We don’t need a temporary moratorium on the death penalty until the Supreme Court can rule on a case that only deals with the margins of the issue, we need to outlaw the death penalty forever, full stop.